A look at the stellar list of Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tournament of Champions winners can be considered a snapshot of bowling greatness. But one of the names that stands out as missing from that list is Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr.
As the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour's leader in career titles with 46, the only
major accomplishment he hasn’t achieved is a Tournament of Champions title.
Williams will be competing in the 45th Tournament of Champions along with 62 other players in a battle for one of professional bowling’s most prestigious
crowns Jan. 19-24 at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas, NV. The finals will be televised live on ESPN Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Pacific).
First conducted in 1962, the Tournament of Champions was created to showcase the Tour’s elite. The ticket into the event has always been based on winning a PBA title.
For Williams, a Tournament of Champions win would set off a domino effect into ultra-elite status among PBA players. He has already won the PBA World
Championship (2001, 2003 and 2006), U.S. Open (1998 and 2003), United States Bowling Congress Masters (2004) and PBA Touring Players Championship (1994), so a Tournament of Champions victory would mean completion of the PBA's Triple Crown, Grand Slam and Super Slam.
Only five PBA players have won a PBA World Championship, U.S. Open and
Tournament of Champions - Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia, Pete Weber, Mike
Aulby and Norm Duke. Aulby and Duke are the only ones to add a Masters title to complete the Grand Slam. Aulby is the lone Super Slam member, including the
Touring Players Championship (an event no longer conducted).
“I definitely have to be bowling well to have a chance,” said Williams, who has
won a PBA Tour title in a record 17 consecutive seasons. "In passing I think
about winning it (the Tournament of Champions), but I don’t have nightmares. It would be nice. It’s one of those things I’m missing, but I have no
disappointments about my career. It would be another feather.”
“I want to bowl well in every event. I know some guys put more importance on
majors, but I try to win every tournament I play in.”
Williams' best previous Tournament of Champions finish was second in 1989 when he lost to Del Ballard Jr., 254-218, in the championship match. Still going
strong at age 50, the six-time PBA Player of the Year won his 46th title in the
Motor City Open during the PBA World Series of Bowling, the first event of the
The Tournament of Champions is open exclusively to Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exempt-player champions; the winners of the most recent PBA Regional Players Championship and Regional Players Invitational; the USBC Masters winner; the USBC Senior Masters, PBA Senior U.S. Open and PBA Senior World Championship winners; all Tournament of Champions past winners, PBA Hall of Famers, and for the first time, the PBA Women’s World Championship titlist (Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J.).